Canadian cannabis workers to be allowed to cross U.S. border

In a turn of events, U.S. officials say those involved in Canada’s legal cannabis industry will be allowed to cross the border, so long as the visit isn’t work-related.

Previously, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said cannabis workers could be banned entry, or even risk imprisonment.

But in an updated statement released this week, U.S. officials said “a Canadian citizen working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in Canada, coming to the U.S. for reasons unrelated to the marijuana industry will generally be admissible to the U.S.,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement this week. “If a traveler is found to be coming to the U.S. for reason related to the marijuana industry, they may be deemed inadmissible.”

In September, U.S. officials had released a statement saying Canadian legalization doesn’t change the fact that American laws treat marijuana as a banned substance, and industry insiders as drug traffickers.

Crossing the border, they said,  “may result in denied admission, seizure, fines, and apprehension. As marijuana continues to be a controlled substance under United States law, working in or facilitating the proliferation of the legal marijuana industry in U.S. states where it is deemed legal or Canada may affect admissibility to the U.S.”

See also: To cross, or not to cross the border: The unintended consequences of cannabis legalization

That statement made headlines across Canada, with many advocating for Ottawa to intervene.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth called on Ottawa to work with the United States to find a solution, noting he’s heard of people who have received lifetime bans for trying to attend a cannabis event or purchase cannabis equipment in the United States.

“This is very much an issue that the federal government needs to make a priority and take very seriously in trying to find a solution, because the impact could be significant,” said Farnworth, who went so far as to say he was pondering dropping the word ‘cannabis’ from the name of the government’s cannabis stores to avoid problems at the border.